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Jusuf Nurkic believes he can be an All-Star


Jusuf Nurkic is coming from what he calls his “greatest summer ever” in terms of work. The Portland Trail Blazers center has been between playing with the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team and doing some training on his own, having had no more than 10 days off during an arduous summer.

Nurk has added a 3-point shot to his arsenal, evolving the same way the game has over the past few years, now boasting big men as viable perimeter threats that defy the fundamental concept of the sport upon its inception.

Head coach Terry Stotts has been encouraged by his center’s disposition to make the change, considering many others have been reluctant to make the change, claiming their advantage remains on the block.

“I knew at some point in his career he would shoot them, because he is a good enough shooter, he has a good stroke,” Stotts told Jason Quick of The Athletic before Sunday’s game. “(A lot of it) is him getting comfortable with it … now it’s just a question of him gaining confidence and rhythm in games.”

If successful, the work reaped from his summer workouts can vault Nurkic into the next level — All-Star status.

“I believe I can be an All-Star,” Nurkic said. “This is only preseason, and it’s a long year… but I’m ready for the challenge.”

Nurkic is a modest three-of-five from deep through three preseason games — a modest sample, but one that is encouraging, considering Stotts’ demand for more long-range attempts.

“I expressed to the team that we need to shoot more 3s and that a good 3 is an open 3,” Stotts said. “I didn’t restrict anybody.”

“If I’m open, I’ll shoot. I’m not going to force it,” Nurkic said. “It’s not going to change my game. I’m still going to be at the rim. I’m still going to play defense best I can.”

Nurkic’s 3-point prowess will be that of an opportunist instead of a marksman looking to snipe its next target, but the subtle change could suddenly open up other parts of his game if he proves accurate enough to warrant other team’s attention at the 3-point line.